Rochester, Minnesota




Karen M. Meagher, Ph.D., is broadly focused on research questions related to ethics and population health. She is especially interested in ethics and professionalism, including how training in medicine, public health, natural sciences and allied health can affect moral perceptions and attitudes. Her work also addresses the ethics of emerging genetic technologies, including their population health implications.

Dr. Meagher's past work has focused on the population health screening potential of new advances in genetics. In addition her work has addressed bioethics and national science, technology, and health policy. This includes such topics as medically actionable genetic results in clinical, research, and direct-to-consumer settings; ethics and the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease epidemic; and ethics of neuroscience research.

Dr. Meagher is also interested in ethics and public engagement. As associate director of public engagement in the Biomedical Ethics Research Program, she supports the Community Advisory Board Network of the Mayo Clinic Biobank. She also co-hosts the "Bioethics on the Page" community book club in conjunction with the Rochester Public Library.

Focus areas

  • Professional values. Characterizing how professional training influences framing of health care challenges, values and solutions.
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration. Examining complexity of multidisciplinary research collaborations. Dr. Meagher works with colleagues in the United States and Thailand to investigate participant decision-making in HIV cure research that involves clinical trials, social science and ethics research partnerships.
  • Infectious diseases. Articulating values of professionals and patients to better inform genetic and infectious disease research and practice, including emerging new technologies to facilitate antimicrobial stewardship and treatment of resistant infections.
  • Biobanking community engagement. Incorporating the views of relevant stakeholders to improve biobanking research, governance and engagement to better reflect community values.

Significance to patient care

Biobanking, preventive screening programs and antimicrobial resistance all require an understanding research participant, patient, clinical and population health perspectives. Dr. Meagher's hope is that through her research bioethics can improve the moral vocabulary it provides to multiple stakeholders, creating new opportunities to connect. She also aims to improve understanding of how life experiences, professional education and training shape views of health. Developing a shared language about what matters most can help improve communication and devise policies that reach across health institutions, professionals and patients.

Professional highlights

  • Counselor, Ethics Section, American Public Health Association, 2019-present
  • Postdoctoral research fellow, Center for Genomics and Society, Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, 2016-2017
  • Senior policy and research analyst, President Barack Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, 2012-2016


Administrative Appointment

  1. Associate Consultant I-Research, Division of Health Care Policy & Research, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Academic Rank

  1. Assistant Professor of Biomedical Ethics


  1. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship School of Medicine; University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Center for Genomics and Society; Center for Bioethics; Department of Social Medicine
  2. Ph.D. - Philosophy; Dissertation: A Virtue Approach to Public Health Ethics Michigan State University
  3. BA - Biology Hamilton College

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